"Low barrier" shelter won't require sobriety for the homeless
Oklahoma City, Okla —
Oklahoma City is one step closer to reducing the number of unsheltered homeless people in the city.
A new idea for an overnight shelter would allow people in, even if they're not sober, have a pet, or don’t have an I.D.
This idea has been in the works for about two years. Ever since non-profits started to realize, while homeless numbers were declining, the number of homeless people who are stuck on the streets, have been increasing.
The homeless population are broken into two categories. Sheltered homeless, meaning those who stay in program oriented centers the city provides and unsheltered. For whatever reason, these people are not allowed in, or chose not to participate in the programs.
Because of the program oriented direction these providers are headed, residents might see more people stuck out on the streets.
In fact, City Care said the unsheltered homeless population has grown 47%.
After years of planning, there's finally a building that will be turned into a low barrier, harm reduction shelter, to help with what they call a local emergency.
C.E.O. of City Care, Adam Luck said, "Low barrier means really not putting up any barriers for people to access services. A lot of times a barrier like that would be requiring someone to enroll in a program to access services, or requiring a state issued I.D., or requiring sobriety."
But with low barriers, how will managers make sure people in, and around the shelter stay safe?
luck says their experience with the day shelter, which is also low barrier, has given them the needed experience.
"It's definitely hard work,” He said, “and it's not without its challenges. Ask any one of our staff there, but at the same time it's work that needs to be done, and I think it's an essential service that our city needs to provide."
The Homeless Alliance, a non-profit that works to collaborate efforts, agrees that this is a huge need in the city, but there's still more work to be done.
Dan Straughan, the Executive Director of the Alliance said, "Sometimes when you’re bleeding you need a band aid. And we need this band aid. But it can't be the final answer to homelessness in Oklahoma City."